|Area||79,758 square feet (7,409.8 m2)|
|Architect||John Russell Pope; Eggers & Higgins|
|Architectural style||Classical Revival|
|Website||Thomas Jefferson Memorial|
|NRHP reference No.||66000029|
|Added to NRHP||October 15, 1966|
|Designated NMEM||April 13, 1943|
The Jefferson Memorial is a presidential memorial built in Washington, D.C. between 1939 and 1943 under the sponsorship of President Franklin D. Roosevelt. Roosevelt thought that it was a suitable memorial to the Founding Fathers of the United States and to Thomas Jefferson, the principal author of the United States Declaration of Independence and the founder of the Democratic-Republican Party.
The neoclassical building is situated in West Potomac Park on the shore of the Potomac River. It was designed by John Russell Pope and built by Philadelphia contractor John McShain. Construction began in 1939 and was completed in 1943. The bronze statue of Jefferson was added in 1947.Pope made references to the Roman Pantheon and to Jefferson's own design for the rotunda at the University of Virginia. The Jefferson Memorial and the White House form one of the main anchor points in the area of the National Mall in D.C. The Washington Monument was intended to be located at the intersection of the White House and the site for the Jefferson Memorial, but soft swampy ground required that it be situated to the east.
The Jefferson Memorial is managed by the National Park Service of the Department of the Interior under its National Mall and Memorial Parks division. In 2007, it was ranked fourth on the "List of America's Favorite Architecture" by the American Institute of Architects.
It became apparent that the site was well suited for another high-profile memorial since it sat directly south of the White House. By 1901 the Senate Park Commission, better known as the McMillan Commission, had proposed placing a Pantheon-like structure on the site hosting "the statues of the illustrious men of the nation, or whether the memory of some individual shall be honored by a monument of the first rank may be left to the future"; no action was ever taken by Congress on this issue.
The completion of the Tidal Basin Inlet Bridge in 1908 helped to facilitate the recreational usage of East and West Potomac Parks. In 1918, large liquid-chlorine dispensers were installed under the bridge to treat the water and make the Tidal Basin (also known as Twining Lake) suitable for swimming. The Tidal Basin Beach, on the site of the future Memorial, opened in May 1918 and operated as a "Whites Only" facility until 1925, when it was permanently closed to avoid the question of racial integration.
A design competition was held for a memorial to Theodore Roosevelt in 1925. The winning design was submitted by John Russell Pope and consisted of a half-circle memorial situated next to a circular basin. The plan was never funded by Congress and was not built.
The Memorial's chance came in 1934 when President Franklin Roosevelt, an admirer of Jefferson, in large part because of the book on Jefferson by his friend Claude G. Bowers, inquired to the Commission of Fine Arts about the possibility of erecting a memorial to Jefferson, including it in the plans for the Federal Triangle project, which was under construction at the time. Later the same year, Congressman John J. Boylan jumped off FDR's starting point and urged Congress to create the Thomas Jefferson Memorial Commission. Boylan was appointed the Commission's first chairman and Congress eventually appropriated $3 million for a memorial to Jefferson.
The Commission chose John Russell Pope as the architect in 1935. Pope was also the architect of the National Archives Building and original (west) building of the National Gallery of Art. He prepared four different plans for the project, each on a different site. One was on the Anacostia River at the end of East Capitol Street; one at Lincoln Park; one on the south side of the National Mall across from the National Archives; and one situated on the Tidal Basin, directly south of the White House. The Commission preferred the site on the Tidal Basin mainly because it was the most prominent site and because it completed the four-point plan called for by the McMillan Commission (Lincoln Memorial to the Capitol; White House to the Tidal Basin site). Pope designed a very large pantheon-like structure, to sit on a square platform, and to be flanked by two smaller, rectangular, colonnaded buildings.
Construction began on December 15, 1938, and the cornerstone was laid on November 15, 1939, by Franklin Roosevelt. By this point Pope had died (1937) and his surviving partners, Daniel P. Higgins and Otto R. Eggers, took over construction of the memorial. The design was modified at the request of the Commission of Fine Arts to a more conservative design. The memorial cost approximately $3 million to construct.
Construction commenced amid significant opposition. The Commission of Fine Arts never actually approved any design for the memorial and even published a pamphlet in 1939 opposing both the design and site of the memorial. Additionally, many Washingtonians opposed the site because it did not align with L'Enfant's original plan for the city; and many well-established elm and cherry trees, including rare stock donated by Japan in 1912,were targeted for removal under the memorial's original plan. Construction continued amid the opposition, which included women protestors chaining themselves to cherry trees. The negative press toward the memorial caused President Roosevelt considerable dismay, but it ultimately helped limit the projected footprint of the new memorial, so that it would peacefully co-exist with the spring-blooming cherry orchard flanking and abutting it.
In 1939, the Memorial Commission hosted a competition to select a sculptor for the planned statue in the center of the memorial. They received 101 entries and chose six finalists. Of the six, Rudulph Evans was chosen as the main sculptor and Adolph A. Weinman was chosen to sculpt the pediment relief situated above the entrance.
Landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted Jr. designed the memorial landscape. The Olmsted planting plan installed at the time of construction featured a simple design within a circular driveway; primarily evergreen trees with limited flowering trees and shrubs. The design was perceived as too thin, so white pines were added and some other plantings took place before the dedication in 1943. Many changes to Olmsted's plans occurred in the 1970s, while 1993 and 2000 restorations have attempted to restore integrity to Olmsted's altered design.President Roosevelt ordered trees to be cut so that the view of the memorial from the White House would be enhanced; additional tree pruning was completed to create an unobstructed view between the Jefferson Memorial and Lincoln Memorial.
The Jefferson Memorial was officially dedicated by President Roosevelt on April 13, 1943, the 200th anniversary of Jefferson's birthday. At that time, Evans' statue had not yet been finished. Due to material shortages during World War II, the statue that was installed at the time was a plaster cast of Evans' work painted to look like bronze. The finished bronze statue was installed in 1947, having been cast by the Roman Bronze Works of New York.
As a National Memorial it was administratively listed on the National Register of Historic Places on October 15, 1966.
The Jefferson Memorial is composed of circular marble steps, a portico, a circular colonnade of Ionic order columns, and a shallow dome. The building is open to the elements. It has a diameter of approximately 165 feet (50 m).
The memorial is constructed of white Imperial Danby marble from Vermont, which rests upon a series of granite and marble-stepped terraces. A flight of granite and marble stairs and platforms, flanked by granite buttresses, lead up from the Tidal Basin to a portico with a triangular pediment.
The pediment features a sculpture by Adolph Alexander Weinman depicting the Committee of Five, the five members of the drafting committee of the Declaration of Independence. Beside Jefferson, the members of this committee were John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Roger Sherman, and Robert Livingston. A cornice with an egg and dart molding surrounds this pediment, below which is a plain frieze.
The interior of the memorial has a 19 feet (5.8 m) tall, 10,000 lb (4,500 kg) bronze statue of Jefferson by the sculptor Rudulph Evans. The statue was added four years after the dedication. Most prominent are the words which are inscribed in a frieze below the dome: "I have sworn upon the altar of God eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man." This sentence is taken from a letter written by Jefferson on September 23, 1800, to Dr. Benjamin Rush wherein he defends the constitutional refusal to recognize a state religion.
On the panel of the southwest interior wall are excerpts from the Declaration of Independence, written in 1776:
We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights, among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, that to secure these rights governments are instituted among men. We ... solemnly publish and declare, that these colonies are and of right ought to be free and independent states ... And for the support of this declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine providence, we mutually pledge our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor.
The inscription uses the word "inalienable", as in Jefferson's draft, rather than "unalienable", as in the published Declaration.
On the panel of the northwest interior wall is an excerpt from the 1777 Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom, except for the last sentence, which is taken from a letter of August 28, 1789, to James Madison:
Almighty God hath created the mind free ... All attempts to influence it by temporal punishments or burthens ... are a departure from the plan of the Holy Author of our religion ... No man shall be compelled to frequent or support any religious worship or ministry or shall otherwise suffer on account of his religious opinions or belief, but all men shall be free to profess and by argument to maintain, their opinions in matters of religion. I know but one code of morality for men whether acting singly or collectively.
The quotes from the panel of the northeast interior wall are from multiple sources. The first sentence, beginning "God who gave ...", is from A Summary View of the Rights of British America .The second, third and fourth sentences are from Notes on the State of Virginia . The fifth sentence, beginning "Nothing is more ...", is from Jefferson's autobiography. The sixth sentence, beginning "Establish the law ...", is from a letter of August 13, 1790, to George Wythe. The final sentence is from a letter of January 4, 1786, to George Washington:
God who gave us life gave us liberty. Can the liberties of a nation be secure when we have removed a conviction that these liberties are the gift of God? Indeed I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just, that his justice cannot sleep forever. Commerce between master and slave is despotism. Nothing is more certainly written in the book of fate than these people are to be free. Establish the law for educating the common people. This it is the business of the state to effect and on a general plan.
The inscription on the panel of the southeast interior wall is redacted and excerpted from a letter of July 12, 1816, to Samuel Kercheval:
I am not an advocate for frequent changes in laws and constitutions. But laws and institutions must go hand in hand with the progress of the human mind. As that becomes more developed, more enlightened, as new discoveries are made, new truths discovered and manners and opinions change, with the change of circumstances, institutions must advance also to keep pace with the times. We might as well require a man to wear still the coat which fitted him when a boy as civilized society to remain ever under the regimen of their barbarous ancestors.
The site of the monument is in West Potomac Park, in Washington, D.C., on the shore of the Potomac River Tidal Basin, and is enhanced with the massed planting of Japanese cherry trees, a gift from the people of Japan in 1912.
Although the Jefferson Memorial is geographically removed from other buildings and monuments in Washington, D.C., as well as from the National Mall and the Washington Metro, it plays host to many events and ceremonies each year, including memorial exercises, the Easter Sunrise Service, and the annual National Cherry Blossom Festival.
The Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial is a presidential memorial in Washington D.C., dedicated to the memory of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, the 32nd President of the United States, and to the era he represents. The memorial is the second of two that have been constructed in Washington to commemorate that president.
West Potomac Park is a U.S. national park in Washington, D.C., adjacent to the National Mall. It includes the parkland that extends south of the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool, from the Lincoln Memorial to the grounds of the Washington Monument. The park is the site of many national landmarks, including the Korean War Veterans Memorial, Jefferson Memorial, Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial, George Mason Memorial, and the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial.
The George Mason Memorial is a memorial to Founding Father George Mason, the author of the Virginia Declaration of Rights that inspired the United States Bill of Rights. The Memorial is located in West Potomac Park within Washington, D.C. at 24 E Basin Drive SW, which is a part of the Tidal Basin. Authorized in 1990, with a groundbreaking in 2000 and dedication in 2002, the memorial includes a sculpture of Mason, a pool, trellis, circular hedges, and numerous inscriptions. It was the first memorial in the Tidal Basin area to be dedicated to someone who was not a former President of the United States.
Theodore Roosevelt Island is an 88.5-acre (358,000 m2) island and national memorial located in the Potomac River in Washington, D.C. The island was given to the federal government by the Theodore Roosevelt Association in memory of the 26th president, Theodore Roosevelt. Until then, the island had been known as My Lord's Island, Barbadoes Island, Mason's Island, Analostan Island, and Anacostine Island.
The George Washington Memorial Parkway, colloquially the G.W. Parkway, is a 25-mile-long (40 km) parkway that runs along the south bank of the Potomac River from Mount Vernon, Virginia, northwest to McLean, Virginia, and is maintained by the National Park Service (NPS). It is located almost entirely within Virginia, except for a short portion of the parkway northwest of the Arlington Memorial Bridge that passes over Columbia Island within the District of Columbia.
The National Cherry Blossom Festival is a spring celebration in Washington, D.C., commemorating the March 27, 1912, gift of Japanese cherry trees from Mayor Yukio Ozaki of Tokyo City to the city of Washington, D.C. Mayor Ozaki donated the trees to enhance the growing friendship between the United States and Japan and also celebrate the continued close relationship between the two nations. Large and colorful helium balloons, floats, marching bands from across the country, music and showmanship are parts of the Festival's parade and other events.
Constitution Avenue is a major east-west street in the northwest and northeast quadrants of the city of Washington, D.C., in the United States. It was originally known as B Street, and its western section was greatly lengthened and widened between 1925 and 1933. It received its current name on February 26, 1931, though it was almost named Jefferson Avenue in honor of Thomas Jefferson. Constitution Avenue's western half defines the northern border of the National Mall and extends from the United States Capitol to the Theodore Roosevelt Bridge. Its eastern half runs through the neighborhoods of Capitol Hill and Kingman Park before it terminates at Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Stadium. Many federal departmental headquarters, memorials, and museums line Constitution Avenue's western segment.
Columbia Island is an island located in the Potomac River in Washington, D.C., in the United States. It formed naturally as an extension of Analostan Island in the latter part of the 1800s, and over time erosion and flooding severed it from Analostan. The U.S. federal government deposited material dredged from the Potomac River on the island between 1911 and 1922, and again from 1925 to 1927. The island was also reshaped by the government at this time. It received the name "Columbia Island" about 1918. In 1968, the island was renamed Lady Bird Johnson Park. Located within the park are the Lyndon Baines Johnson Memorial Grove, Navy – Merchant Marine Memorial, and the Columbia Island Marina. The island, park, memorials, and marina are part of the George Washington Memorial Parkway and administered by the National Park Service.
Hains Point is located at the southern tip of East Potomac Park between the main branch of the Potomac River and the Washington Channel in southwest Washington, D.C. The land on which the park is located is sometimes described as a peninsula but is actually an island: the Washington Channel connects with the Tidal Basin north of the park and the Jefferson Memorial. The island is artificial: it was built up from Potomac dredging material from 1880 to 1892.
Independence Avenue is a major east-west street in the southwest and southeast quadrants of the city of Washington, D.C., in the United States, running just south of the United States Capitol. Originally named South B Street, Independence Avenue SW was constructed between 1791 and 1823. Independence Avenue SE was constructed in pieces as residential development occurred east of the United States Capitol and east of the Anacostia River. Independence Avenue SW received its current name after Congress renamed the street in legislation approved on April 13, 1934. Independence Avenue SW originally had its western terminus at 14th Street SW, but was extended west to Ohio Drive SW between 1941 and 1942. The government of the District of Columbia renamed the portion of the road in the southeast quadrant of the city in 1950.
East Potomac Park is a park located on a man-made island in the Potomac River in Washington, D.C., United States. The island is between the Washington Channel and the Potomac River, and on it the park lies southeast of the Jefferson Memorial and the 14th Street Bridge. Amenities in East Potomac Park include the East Potomac Park Golf Course, a miniature golf course, a public swimming pool, tennis courts, and several athletic fields. The park is a popular spot for fishing, and cyclists, walkers, inline skaters, and runners heavily use the park's roads and paths. A portion of Ohio Drive SW runs along the perimeter of the park.
Frederick Law Olmsted Jr. was an American landscape architect and city planner known for his wildlife conservation efforts. He had a lifetime commitment to national parks, and worked on projects in Acadia, the Everglades and Yosemite National Park. He gained national recognition by filling in for his father on the Park Improvement Commission for the District of Columbia beginning in 1901, and by contributing to the famous McMillan Commission Plan for redesigning Washington according to a revised version of the original L’Enfant plan. Olmsted Point in Yosemite and Olmsted Island at Great Falls of the Potomac River in Maryland are named after him.
The Tidal Basin is a partially man-made reservoir between the Potomac River and the Washington Channel in Washington, D.C. It is part of West Potomac Park and is a focal point of the National Cherry Blossom Festival held each spring. The Jefferson Memorial, the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial, the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial, and the George Mason Memorial are situated adjacent to the Tidal Basin. The basin covers an area of about 107 acres (43 ha) and is 10 feet (3.0 m) deep.
The Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial is located in West Potomac Park next to the National Mall in Washington, D.C., United States. It covers four acres (1.6 ha) and includes the Stone of Hope, a granite statue of Civil Rights Movement leader Martin Luther King Jr. carved by sculptor Lei Yixin. The inspiration for the memorial design is a line from King's "I Have A Dream" speech: "Out of the mountain of despair, a stone of hope." The memorial opened to the public on August 22, 2011, after more than two decades of planning, fund-raising, and construction.
Ohio Drive is a street in Southwest Washington, D.C., located in East and West Potomac Parks and bordering the Tidal Basin, Washington Channel, and the Potomac River. It is a central organizing feature of East Potomac Park, providing the only major vehicular route to and through the area. Unlike most roadways named after states in the District of Columbia, Ohio Drive is not an avenue, nor it is heavily used like Wisconsin or Rhode Island Avenues. However, the segment from Independence Avenue to the Rock Creek and Potomac Parkway is an important commuter route.
The McMillan Plan is a comprehensive planning document for the development of the monumental core and the park system of Washington, D.C., the capital of the United States. It was written in 1902 by the Senate Park Commission. The commission is popularly known as the McMillan Commission after its chairman, Senator James McMillan of Michigan.
Luther Ely Smith was a St. Louis, Missouri lawyer and civic booster. He has been described by the National Park Service as the "father of the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial," which was renamed as the Gateway Arch National Park in 2018. In the 1930s, he conceived of the idea of a memorial to President Thomas Jefferson in Saint Louis, the starting point of the Lewis and Clark Expedition and opening of the West through the city. He chaired the Association to develop the memorial for nearly 15 years, every year but one from 1934 through 1949, after the design competition had been completed and the winner Eero Saarinen selected for his "Gateway Arch". Construction of the Gateway Arch started in 1963, after Smith's death; it fulfilled his vision of a symbol of the city to represent its role with the American West.
Major General George B. McClellan is an equestrian statue in Washington, D.C. that honors politician and Civil War general George B. McClellan. The monument is sited on a prominent location in the Kalorama Triangle neighborhood due to efforts made by area residents. The statue was sculpted by American artist Frederick William MacMonnies, a graduate of the École des Beaux-Arts whose best known work is a statue of Nathan Hale in New York City. MacMonnies was chosen to design the statue following a lengthy competition organized by a statue commission, led by then Secretary of War William Howard Taft. The monument was dedicated in 1907, with prominent attendees at the ceremony including President Theodore Roosevelt, New York City mayor George B. McClellan, Jr., politicians, generals and thousands of military personnel.
The American Veterans Disabled for Life Memorial is a memorial in Washington, D.C., which honors veterans of the armed forces of the United States who were permanently disabled during the course of their national service. Congress adopted legislation establishing the memorial on October 23, 2000, authorizing the Disabled Veterans for Life Memorial Foundation to design, raise funds for, and construct the memorial. The fundraising goal was reached in mid-2010, and ground for the memorial broken on November 10, 2010. The memorial was dedicated by President Barack Obama on October 5, 2014.
The Arts of War and The Arts of Peace are bronze, fire-gilded statue groups on Lincoln Memorial Circle in West Potomac Park in Washington, D.C., in the United States. Commissioned in 1929 to complement the plaza constructed on the east side of the Lincoln Memorial as part of the Arlington Memorial Bridge approaches, their completion was delayed until 1939 for budgetary reasons. The models were placed into storage, and the statues not cast until 1950. They were erected in 1951, and repaired in 1974.
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